More than $5 million of long-awaited staged works designed to substantially reduce the flood risk to the small Northland centres of Otiria and Moerewa are under way.
About $5.1 million of works will be carried out in three stages, starting with a $500,000, 150 metre lower spillway from Pokapu Road to where it meets the Waiharekeke River.
In a big flood, about 80 percent of the water from the Otiria Stream spills over nearby land as does 70% from the Waiharakeke Stream.
In partnership with the local community, Northland Regional Council plans to restore the streams’ natural flows by replacing the existing Pokapu Rd Bridge and building a new three-span, 60-metre-long single-lane bridge.
While the works will not stop flooding altogether, they will reduce the severity of a typical flood by about 75%. The communities of Moerewa and Otiria have suffered three major flooding events in the last decade.
About $2.8M of the project cost will be met by central govt via Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, another $1.6M from the NRC and the balance –about $600,000 – via a local rate on about 2300 properties in the affected area.
Local kaitiaki Wiremu Keretene says the project has “demonstrated and shown us what a true partnership looks like from a hapu mana whenua point of view when referring to Te Wakaputanga 1835 & Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840”.
“We are working together to achieve a solution where both tangata whenua and local government agency are in agreement with the final decision”.
Mr Keretene says locals’ knowledge has been integrated into the overall project plan and importantly for them, they have had the opportunity to be included at the discussion table and in the decision-making process.